On my return to Kingston earlier this week, I picked up a copy of the New York Times International newspaper and one article in particular caught my eye. It was entitled ‘What Jesus Can Teach The Muslims’. At first I cringed, presuming this was yet one more example of Christian triumphalism that has wrecked so much damage upon humanity. Then I noticed the author, Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish journalist and devout Muslim.
As his fellow Muslims struggle to choose between violent extremism against the powers of this world or secular accommodation to them, Akyol wonders if there is another option available, one he suggests was highlighted by Jesus. ‘Unlike other Messiah claimants of his time, he did not unleash an armed rebellion against Rome. He did not bow dow to Rome either. He put his attention to something else: reviving the faith and reforming the religion of his people. In particular, he called on his fellow Jews to focus on their religion’s moral principles ..’
With this in mind, I read Jesus’ first act of public ministry in Luke’s narrative, Jesus’ first sermon, with new eyes (Luke 4:14-30) and ears. He certainly stands upon a great religious tradition and the air is heavy with doctrine and ritual, but what Jesus actually speaks and goes forth to live is a revival of faith and reformation of religion by focusing his people upon the moral priorities of their God – he declares his determination to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, and let the oppressed go free. Might a better title for the sermon this Sunday at St. Andrew’s might be ‘What Jesus can teach Christians’?!
Join us if you are in the area. Have a look at the Order of Service below, and the many invitations to participate. There is free parking available on the streets around the church and in the public parking lot just behind the church off Queen Street. During the service there is a nursery available for infants, and a programme for children.